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Federal court largely upholds California sanctuary laws

California's state sanctuary laws were upheld by a federal appeals court on Apr. 18, in a rejection of a lawsuit filed by the Trump administration. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit said that California's state laws do not unlawfully interfere with federal immigration enforcement. Earlier, the Trump administration sued the state over three laws, including one that prohibits local law enforcement officials from informing federal immigration agencies about the release dates for imprisoned immigrants.

The decision generally upholds a judgment reached by a lower court in July 2018. The judges said that the law regarding inmate release notification was valid, as was a law requiring employers to alert their workers before federal immigration inspections are carried out. However, the court did side with the Trump administration on one of its challenges. Specifically, the court said that a California law allowing the state's attorney general to perform inspections of federal immigration detention facilities could place an excessive financial burden on federal authorities.

The state attorney general praised the ruling, saying that it was a victory for states' rights as well as the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which holds that powers not explicitly granted to the federal government are held by the people or the states. However, the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency said that California's policies "protect criminal aliens" and that ICE expects local law enforcement agencies to act as "partners" with its activities, although it denied wanting local police to participate directly in immigration raids or detention activities.

California state laws aim to provide immigrants with a higher level of protection, especially as the Trump administration ramps up deportations and the use of immigration detention. People who are concerned about their status in the country can work with an immigration law attorney to protect their rights.

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